Somerset is a maritime county in the South-West of England, bounded North and North-East by the Bristol Channel and the Severn Estuary, and from North-East round to South-West by the counties of Gloucester, Wilts, Dorset, and Devon; greatest length, North and South, 43 miles; greatest breadth, East and West, 67 miles; area, 1,049,812 acres, population 469,101. The coast line is generally low and marshy in the East, but lined with lofty slate cliffs in the West. The interior consists of ranges of hills separated by valleys, or by extensive low marshy flats. The principal ranges are the Mendip Hills, the Polden Hills, the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills, and Exmoor. The chief rivers are the Avon and the Parret (with its tributaries the Yeo or Ivel, Isle, and Tone), the former forming the boundary on the North-East, the latter traversing the centre of the county; the other streams are the Yeo, Ax, and Brue. Both soil and climate are well adapted for agriculture, particularly in the low alluvial tracts; and in the Vale of Taunton heavy crops of the finest wheat are raised. The rich meadows rear large numbers of cattle, and the hilly grounds are pastured with numerous flocks of sheep. In the East of the county are some small isolated coalfields, the most southerly in England, the quarries which furnish the famous Bath stone, and a large development of magnesian limestone; the West of the county consists chiefly of slaty rocks, forming the wild moorlands of Exmoor. The chief minerals worked are lead, iron, and slate. The principal manufactures are woollen and worsted goods, gloves, lace, linen, crape, silk, paper, glass, and bath-bricks. There are salmon, herring, and other fisheries in the Bristol Channel. An important chain of internal communication is formed by the Yeo and Parret navigation and the Glastonbury Canal. The county contains 40 hundreds, 2 liberties, 489 parishes with parts of 3 others, the parliamentary and municipal boroughs of Bath and Taunton, and the municipal boroughs of Bridgwater, Chard, Glastonbury, Wells, and Yeovil. It is nearly co-extensive with the diocese of Bath and Wells. For parliamentary purposes it is divided into 7 divisions - North Somerset, Wells, Frome, East Somerset, South Somerset, Bridgwater, and West Somerset or Wellington.
(Transcribed from the out-of-copyright Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887)
Useful Online Resources for the County of Somerset
Minehead - the town of Minehead in old picture postcards
Taunton - an online collection of old postcards of Taunton
Weston Super Mare - the seaside town of Weston in old postcards
Somerset County Gazette - probably the premier local newspaper
West Somerset Free Press - another Somerset newspaper
West Somerset Railway - the Minehead / Taunton railway
BBC Somerset - local radio from Somerset
Somerset - photographs and postcards of Somerset towns
Somerset - information on and photographs of Somerset
Somerset Libraries - information about local libraries and services
Somerset Tourist Information - Official tourist information for Somerset. Things to do, events, leisure activities, accommodation
Full index of old images, antique pictures and vintage photographs of Ilminster, Somerset currently online. More images of Ilminster and Yeovil added weekly.
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